Scotland pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Six Nations history when they beat France 20-16 at Murrayfield on Sunday.
The Scot’s victory, their first against France at Murrayfield in 10 years, has thrown the Six Nations wide open.
Scottish supporters must have been worried after two minutes of the match when the French claimed possession from kick-off and took the ball through a dozen phases. However, that was as good as it got for the Frogs as the Scots seized control.
The home side blew a golden try-scoring opportunity in the fifth minute when they failed to take advantage of a two-man overlap out wide, but their pressure was converted into points soon after when left wing Sean Lamont brushed off a poor tackle from French No 10 Frederic Michalak to score under the posts. The try was made possible by the impressive Scottish pack, who drove the ball up to their opponent’s tryline and sucked in a number of French defenders.
Chris Paterson nailed the conversion and added two penalties to give Scotland a surprise 13-0 lead after half an hour.
The French were their own worst enemies in the first half, knocking on several times and kicking when the ball should have been kept in hand. Without superstar Yannick Jauzion in midfield, and Michalak struggling with a knee injury, the Tricolore backs were largely ineffective.
The Frogs finally put points on the board a minute before half-time, when Michalak succeeded with a penalty from right in front to make it 13-3.
Scotland has earned a reputation as a team that plays its heart out for 30 minutes, before capitulating in the second half. However, the home side struck first after the break when Lemont was driven over for his second try, following a 20m drive by the fowards.
At 20-3, the French looked finished, but No 8 Julien Bonnaire gave the visitors hope when he scored in the left-hand corner to round off a rare attack sparked by a Florian Fritz break through the Scottish midfield.
Paterson then missed a sitter of a penalty, before French scrumhalf Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (who claimed the kicking duties when Michalak eventually hobbled off the field) added another three points to make it 20-11.
With three minutes to go, the French grabbed their second try when replacement Sebastian Bruno went over in the corner. However, Elissalde missed the conversion from the left-hand touchline and at 20-16 they needed to score again.
The Scots soon worked their way back into the French 22, and when Jonathan Kaplan blew the final whistle the celebrations began.
Scotland – Tries: Sean Lamont (2). Conversions: Chris Paterson (2). Penalties: Paterson (2).
France – Tries: Julien Bonnaire, Sebastian Bruno. Penalties: Frederic Michalak, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.